I’ve been on a quest as of late to experience new things. My newest challenge: enter a deprivation tank and float. So I teamed up with Float North County located in beautiful Solano Beach. In exchange for my open and honest review, I received three floats and a treatment called Lucia Light.
This isn’t your college float session; I didn’t set up camp in Mission Bay during Floatopia on a giant inflatable pizza, armed with a pack of Coors Light. (I have actually done this and I can personally assure you that this kind of floating can lead only to extreme sunburns and wicked hangovers.) Instead, I tried floating at a legit establishment which has both science and research behind their setup. Unlike Floatopia, the idea is to reduce stimuli and induce relaxation.
Owner Glen Stokoe explains, there is no need to fight gravity or deal with sensory input, which allows your body to reallocate that energy. Some people float to relieve stress and significantly reduce anxiety, some float to eliminate chronic pain, while others float to fight addiction–and all experience true relaxation, allowing muscles to fully release and expedite recovery.
The folks at Float North County have made it easy and painless. From your own private room, a door that looks like the entrance to a giant Easy Bake Oven leads you to a plush white tub that is filled with enough Epsom salts to make your entire body float.
The first of my three floats I suffered from a serious learning curve. I was slightly terrified since I have little interaction with silence. Or being alone. There is always someone demanding something or pulling my hair. So floating in a tank by my lonesome, sounded awesome and also frightening because my intention was to try to do something I had never done before: reach some state of meditation. The idea of meditation has always enthralled me but I like to practice it from afar– you know, by eating ice cream on my couch with the baby on my lap, watching TV, while simultaneously playing on my phone and thinking about meditation.
The first 45 minutes were excruciating. It was so quiet. I was so alone. And while that sounds wonderful in theory, in reality I was shell-shocked. My house has three screaming kids and a bulldog that barks at moving curtains and blades of grass. I didn’t realize that silence would make me so uncomfortable.
I made grocery lists. I worried about scheduling. I went over everything that I had to accomplish that weekend. I entertained the idea of climbing out of tub and playing Candy Crush on my phone. But I kept telling myself, You’re better than this. You signed up for a new experience. Follow through. The LED lights that lit up the ceiling could be turned off and since the point was sensory deprivation, this sounded like a good idea to me. Except for some reason when I was sitting in pitch black, floating around with my own thoughts, I couldn’t get rid of the notion that I was once again in the womb. And I didn’t like it. A simple push of a button turned back on my lights, and I was able to sink back into the perfectly warm water.
I pretended that I was a mermaid for a while. Shifting my weight from side to side I imagined what it would be like to be weightless and free forever. It occurred to me that Ariel really had a sweet life under the sea, and that if she knew how hard walking in heels was, maybe she wouldn’t have craved being a woman so much. But the grass is always greener, I guess. Sigh.
I thought about everything that I could and then amazingly, I ran out of things to think about. Something happened about half way through– my mind just went blank. I gradually found myself with the sensation that I was on a lake, the twinkling LED’s above me the stars. Before I knew it, soft music sounded gently through the speakers to signal the end of my session.
The next week during my second float, the process was much smoother. (That’s why we recommend at least three, I was told.) The routine was set and I knew what to expect. It still took me some time to calm my brain down, but once it did an hour and a half flew by.
My third float was preceded by a treatment called Lucia Light. Sitting comfortably in a gravity chair, a light with a long arm was aimed directly at my face. The white flashing LED’s go through your eyelids and induce a different experience for everyone. The lights are white, but you’re going to see color. Sounds intriguing right? I thought for sure I’d see dirty diapers and piles of laundry.
Viewers are urged to listen to their own choice of music, which can enhance the session.
Listen to something without words. If you’re hearing words through your headphones, your brain then has to interpret them, pulling you away from your session.
With Instrumental Folk synced up, I put on my headphones and leaned back in my chair. It was overwhelming at first. What felt like 1,000 lights were flashing at my eyelids. Give it a shot, I kept telling myself. The thing that kept me still was knowing that if got to be too much, all I had to do was lean six inches to either side to remove my face from the light.
But then, dear readers, I went on what can only be explained as the happiest, most controlled trip of my life. I was my own rainbow, swirling in colors. Remember the Magic Eye books that came out in the 90’s? If you stared at a page and slightly crossed your eyes, the images would come to life. It was like I was standing on the page. The shapes moved to the music I was hearing, in the weirdest, most beautiful way. And before I knew it, 20 minutes had passed and I was lying on my back, instantly pulled out of my LED induced trip.
Completely relaxed, I wandered down the hallway to my third float session and settled into my tank like I owned the place. I laid down on the water, looked at the soft blue twinkling stars, and pondered Buddhist monks tripping, before sliding into nothingness.
In my humble opinion, meditation means something different to everyone. Neurologists can confirm that meditation reinforces brain cell connection, improving anything from processing information to remembering things. Those close to me will testify that I could use a little brain boost. I have three children under six. I’m tired. I’m hungry. But even more then the relaxation that this experience provided, it hit me on a deeper, dare I say spiritual, level. Floating challenged me to take a step back from my children, my husband, from my friends and from my phone. And as scary and boring as it was at first, I have to say that I’m quite proud of myself. I did something that I would never normally do and got to see some incredible results.
If you want to know more about floating, have any questions or concerns, contact the folks at Float North County. They are helpful, insightful and sincerely into what they’re doing there.